Goiania, Brazil , June 2 , 2018 - Wallace shone for Brazil - despite the lights going out.
The match was delayed for over 30 minutes at the start of the third set when the stadium lighting system failed mid-rally leaving the Brazilian fans packed into the arena - as well as the players - very much in the dark.
Yet when power was restored , Brazil were reignited once again as they bagged another comprehensive straight sets 3-0 (26-24, 25-19, 24-20) win to keep pace with their rivals.
Japan would have welcomed the unexpected break in play with the scoreboard showing the relentless hosts two sets up and cruising to a fourth VNL win (it was also their fourth clean sweep) from five with an impressive all round showing thanks to excellent displays from top scorer Wallace ( 10 spikes, two blocks and three aces) and healthy contributions from Lucas (nine points), Douglas (seven points) and Mauricio Souza (four spikes, three blocks , three aces).
It was just the type of bright show from Brazil who will need to deliver their A game tomorrow when they take on the USA in a battle of the two best teams in the world.
Japan certainly came into the match full of confidence after pushing the Americans all the way yesterday in a thriller which saw them sensationally storm into a two set lead before eventually being felled by the second best team in the world.
The performance of Issei Otake (13 points), who was superb from the service line as well as in front of the net, suggested confidence levels hadn’t been affected while Hiroaki Asano (nine points) and Kentaro Takahashi (nine points including three aces) also shone.
Their efforts so far in Goiania have certainly merited a win and they will look to head off into week three on a high when they meet Korea tomorrow.
For Brazil , however, the acid test against the US is now on their radar after securing another straight-sets win in the VNL.
The Brazilians wiped the floor with Korea on Friday and with Japan next up in front of an adoring, excitable home crowd, the hope was for more of the same.
Taking on the finest on the planet was always going to be a tall order - the Japanese haven’t beaten the South Americans for 25 years and last took a set off them 11 years ago.
Add in the fact that top scorer Wallace, who was rested for the match against Korea, was reinstalled here, and it’s fair to say that Yuichi Nakagaichi’s men were up against it from the very start.
That said, the Japanese were brilliant in the opener. Otake was blocking superbly and when, at 23-23, the opposite spiker’s thunderbolt was deflected wide by flailing Brazilian hands, the side currently sitting seventh in the VNL table had the chance to create a little slice of history and win a set against the men in yellow for the first time since the FIVB World Cup in 2007.
Yet the adversity spurred the home side on. The first point was saved and then the momentum began to switch allowing Brazil to take the lead and a position of strength which they never gave up.
It was another hammer blow for Nakagaichi’s energetic team and although Takahashi’s aces were keeping Japan alive, the combined power and poise of Douglas and Wallace was just too much to handle.
Douglas was defending superbly and when an Otake spike was blocked, the second set was sealed.
Just five points into the third, the power lines were down brining a temporary lull to proceedings.
Fans looked on sightly bemused but used the time to dance, sing and pay homage to their heroes.
And when the lights finally began to shine once more, so too did Renan Dal Zotto’s team who were rarely troubled as they eased through the gears to set themselves up superbly for that mega match against the Americans on Sunday.